How many speakers can I connect to my marine radio?
It depends on the radio. Most marine radios can only handle 4 marine speakers. However, some marine radios are 2 ohm stable and can handle up to 8 speakers. You will need to look at the radio specs. If the power output shows "50W x 4 at 2 Ohms" or it says, "2 Ohm Stable", it means you can connect 8 speakers to that radio. When you wire your radio to an 8 ohm load, the marine radio will consume more current and run hotter. It is better to run your speakers at 4 ohms vs. 2 ohms, espeically if you use your boat on really hot days.
What is a Digital Media Receiver?
A digital media receiver refers to a marine radio that does not have a CD player. You may also see these marine radios referred to as "Mech-less" meaning, it does not have a CD mechanism. Most marine digital media receivers will have Bluetooth, USB, and auxiliary inputs and an AM/FM tuner. These marine radios are everything you think of when you hear the word, "radio", they just don't have the CD player.
What does it mean when I see "Zones" on a marine radio?
Think of a a zone as a "room" in your house. When you see that a marine radio has 2 zones, that means that you can control the volume independently for 2 "rooms". One room might be your hull speakers and the other room might be your wake tower speakers. If you have a 3 zone marine stereo, you could have center and rear speakers on one zone, the bow speakers on one zone, and the tower speakers on a separate zone. This would allow you to turn independently control the front speakers, rear speakers, and wake tower speakers to create an ideal experience for everyone aboard. The people in the bow might be talking and not want the music blasting. If you are driving, you might want the music up and you also want to make sure that the person you are towing is getting maximum volume from the wake tower speakers. If you see a marine radio that has 4 zones, that gives you even more control and one of those zones is usually set for subwoofers. It is important to remember that each zone is an RCA pre-out so you much connect each zone into an amplifier. Each zone doesn't necessarily needs it's own amplifier, but you at least need 2 channels per zone.
What is a DIN size marine radio?
A DIN size marine radio is a head unit that fits a 7"x2" opening. A DIN size marine head unit is the "Standard" aftermarket head unit size that was used in the 1990's up until around 2008. If you remember a car CD player with a detachable face, most of those were DIN sized head units. Most marine radios with CD players are DIN size radios because the unit has to be wide enough for the CD to fit.
Do Marine radios with Bluetooth have hands-free calling?
Most marine radios with Bluetooth do not offer hands free calling. When you see that a marine radio is Bluetooth enabled, it is usually referring to streaming capability. In order to have hands-free calling you need a microphone and on a boat, a microphone exposed to the elements and the wind is not going to work that well. For this reason, virtually all Bluetooth marine radios offer Bluetooth streaming only.
Can I Power a Subwoofer off of my marine radio?
Yes, there is one marine radio that puts out enough power for a single marine subwoofer, the Sony MEX-M100BT. This marine head unit has a built in CD player and can also put out enough power for a small, 8" or 10" subwoofer. Virtually every other marine radio will require an external amplifier to power a subwoofer. We recommend using an external amplifier for all marine subwoofers because of the open air environment. While the MEX-M100BT can power a subwoofer, you are much better off with an amplifier if you want good bass output.
What is the advantage of a square style marine radio?
Recently, many marine radio manufacturers have started to introduce square-style marine radios. The are digital media receivers that usually have the latest features, and a decent sized display. Instead of having a single line or two-line single color LCD readout, these units have full color, 2.5" and larger displays that will show you album artwork and provide a much nicer user interface. The nice part about these units is that they can deliver all of the features and functionality that you want, they have large, birght, easy to read displays, and they don't take up a ton of dashboard real estate. Many of the square style marine radios use a 3" or 3.5" standard hole cutout.
Why would I choose a round, gauge style marine radio vs. a square one?
Selecting between a round, gauge style marine radio and a square style unit comes down to personal preference and it will also depend on your boat. If you only have round gauges, a square head unit might not look appropriate. Also, depending the gauge sizes you have, a round marine radio might fit perfectly in your existing gauge opening and give you a nice, clean appearance. While the round marine head units were very popular, lately the industry has moving toward more of the square/rectangle for factors because you can fit larger displays.
Why are the marine stereo remotes wired
The remotes for marine radios are not remotes like we are traditionally used to. These marine radios are remote in the sense that they control the head unit remotely, meaning not on the radio itself. These marine stereo remotes are usually mounted to the hull and they are wired because they need a power connection. One of the most common places to mount a marine radio remote is at the very back of the boat by the swim step. If you are in the water swimming or floating, you can easily change songs and adjust the volume without having to get completely out of the water and walk back toward the driver's seat. Think of the places where you might hang out while not at the wheel and those are probably good places for a remote.
Can I add Bluetooth to my old marine radio?
If you have an older marine radio that did not come with Bluetooth, you can use a 12V Bluetooth adapter to add Bluetooth functionality to it, as long as you have an auxiliary input. If your existing marine stereo does not have an auxiliary input, adding Bluetooth functionality will be slightly more difficult. The JL Audio MBT-RX is our favorite Bluetooth adapter. It the wiring is soldered directly to the unit itslef and it is overmolded and sealed to keep moisture out. It does use RCA connections for the auxiliary connection. If your existing auxiliary connection is a 3.5mm headphone jack on the front, you will need an Female RCA to 3.5mm adapter cable.
Can I use the fader on my marine radio as a zone controller?
Yes. When setting up the amplifiers or wiring the speakers to your marine radio, you can use the fader as a zone controller. If you have 4 speakers in the hull and 4 tower speakers, connect the hull speakers to "Front", and the tower speakers to "Rear". Now, on your marine radio, you can go to fader, and change it from fron the back. If you put the fader all the way to the front, the tower speakers will turn off. If you turn the fader all the way to the rear, the hull speakers will turn off.
Can I control other accessories with my marine radio?
Some marine radios have accessory control built into them and will control more than just your speakers. The Stinger SPXM1 will control up to 4 accessory devices. The radio will not handle the current for the accessories and relays will need to be used, but instead of cutting holes and purchasing additional switches, you can turn on lights and other functions directly on the radio.The Wet Sounds WS-MC-1 will control the RGB LED lights in the speakers when you purchase their controller. Yes, you still need the controller, but it is one less device that you have to mess with when you want to turn on and change the LED lighting.
What does it mean when I see Front & Rear/Sub pre-outs?
When you see "Front & Rear/Sub" pre-outs on the radio spec list, this means that there are only 4 channel pre-amp outputs, but you can select whether the rear channel controls the rear speakers or the subwoofer. You use your radio's menu to select whether the rear pre-out is for full range speakers or subwoofer. When it is for full-range speakers, the subwoofer control will be turned off. When you select "Subwoofer" for the rear pre-outs, make sure you connect the subwoofer amp RCA's to the Rear/Subwoofer set of RCA's and when you adjust the subwoofer level on the radio, your subwoofer output will increase or decrease accordingly.
How does the Pandora Control work?
Many of the square style marine head units have Pandora Control built-in. This allows you to change songs and channels on the unit itself without having to get your phone out. The head unit itself does not have Pandora built-in. This connection works via Bluetooth.
What is the difference between a Bluetooth controller and a Bluetooth adapter?
A Bluetooth adapter allows you to add a Bluetooth connection to your head unit or amplifier with an RCA or 3.5mm connection. A Bluetooth controller is a device that has Bluetooth connectivity built in, it has the RCA connections like an adapter does, but the controller has the ability to change tracks, play, pause, and adjust the volume on the controller device itself. With a Bluetooth adapter, you control everything from your phone, with a Bluetooth controller, you can control it on your phone or on the device itself. Usually a Bluetooth adapter is hidden and a Bluetooth controller is mounted in place, within an arm's reach, so that you can control your music without having to use and unlock your phone.
What does it mean if a marine radio is Sirius XM Ready?
When you see that a marine radio is "SiriusXM Ready," that means that you can add a Sirius XM tuner to the radio and control SiriusXM on the radio itself. This is the type of integration most people expect when they see SiriusXM Ready. The other option for SiriusXm, is to use a universal SiriusXM tuner that uses an auxiliary input. With this type SiriusXM integration, you have a separate tuner where you view the current station and change stations on the Sirius XM module itself, not on the actual radio.
Is there a marine radio with backup camera input?
Yes. Several of the square style marine radio units come with a video input and a video trigger wire. With these marine radios, you would connect the video signal from the camera to the video input and then connect the trigger wire to your boat or vehicle's reverse switch. On your boat, when you move the throttle to go in reverse, this would trigger the radio to show the video from the camera. In a boat, you are usually well prepared when going in reverse and you have fenders in place or your friends or crew are using ropes to pull you in. But, if you have a UTV or any other outdoor vehicle that might use a marine radio, you may want to see what is behind you.
Is the built-in amplifier as good as the other marine amplifiers I see?
No. The built in amplifier on a marine radio does not even come close to the power output, sound quality, volume, or clarity you get from one of our marine amplifiers. Most radios base their power output on the peak power output of the internal amplifier whereas the external marine amplifiers base the power output off of the RMS output. When determining the power output, you want to bass it off of the RMS output, not the peak output. 50 watts from a marine amplifier blows away 50 watts from a marine radio. There's a reason that the external amplifier that only puts out 50 watts costs more than the radio that puts out 50 watts AND does all this other stuff.
What does it mean when you see the word "Deck Power?"
When talking about marine radios and marine speakers, you may see the term, "Deck Power." This is referring to the power from the built-in amplifier in your marine radio. Most marine radios come with an internal amplifier. If you are not using external marine amplifiers, you want to make sure that your speakers are going to work well in lower power applications. When talking about these speakers, we will often say that they work well on "Deck Power." This means they work well when powered directly off your marine radio, without the use of an amplifier.
Do these marine radios have Bluetooth?
All of the marine radios that we offer come with Bluetooth streaming built-in. If you are purchasing a new marine radio, you do not need to buy any Bluetooth adapters.
What does it mean when you see a marine radio with RDS?
When you see a marine radio with an RDS tuner, the radio will display the station, artist, and song information on the LCD display. In most new cars, when you listen to a song on the radio you get the information about the song you are listening to. Many of the marine radios that we offer have the same technology. This information is sent the same way the radio works but it is sent at 57kHz frequency. It is not a frequency that you can tune to, but your marine radio will read that specific frequnecy to display the information.